Vegetarian Chickpea Meatballs


Meatballs were always a favorite growing up. After losing my mother in high school, I so clearly remember being her sous chef during childhood, and getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. I remember the texture and smells of the raw onion and Italian seasonings even to this day!

When I started thinking about my own version of vegetarian meatballs I wanted to replicate those memories. My first attempt used lentils for a good protein source, but the "meatballs" came out shapeless and too gooey before baking and then too dry on the outside afterward; they reminded me of a delicious falafel, but not a meaty meatball.

In doing some research I noticed many vegetarian meatball versions with chickpeas and thought, why not? I used soy sauce and tomato paste for a sweet and savory flavor, and decided to use raw onion since it was so similar to my mother’s recipe.

These vegetarian meatballs are excellent as a sandwich filling, a bite-size snack and on top of pasta.  They pack in only 45 calories with 2 grams each protein and fiber per meatball. This recipe makes up to 20 meatballs that can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for three months.

I hope these healthy, vegetarian meatballs satisfy your cravings!

Vegetarian Chickpea Meatballs

Makes 18-20 small meatballs; serving size: 4-5 meatballs


  • 1 15-ounce can drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup frozen spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, optional
  • ¼ to ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside an oiled or non-stick cookie sheet.
  2. Combine all ingredients except egg in a food processor. Once combined, adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Add egg and pulse until thoroughly blended.
  4. Use hands or a cookie scooper to form small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on pan.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, flipping after 15 to 20 minutes for even browning. Remove from oven and enjoy!
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan on Facebook
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a recent transplant to the Boulder, CO, area after working as an inpatient dietitian for almost five years in Boston. She is hoping to explore health and wellness and the food industry while she explores beautiful Colorado. Katie is passionate about her new cooking hobby and started a food blog, One Hungry Bunny, in April 2016. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.